Original Article

Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 515-523

First online:

Breast cancer survivors’ supportive care needs 2–10 years after diagnosis

  • Katharine HodgkinsonAffiliated withDepartment of Gynecological Cancer, Westmead HospitalDepartment of Psychological Medicine, University of Sydney Email author 
  • , Phyllis ButowAffiliated withMedical Psychology Research Unit, School of Psychology, Brennan/MacCallum Building (A18), University of Sydney
  • , Glenn E HuntAffiliated withDepartment of Psychological Medicine, University of Sydney
  • , Susan PendleburyAffiliated withDepartment of Radiation Oncology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, University of Sydney
  • , Kim M HobbsAffiliated withDepartment of Gynecological Cancer, Westmead Hospital
  • , Gerard WainAffiliated withDepartment of Gynecological Cancer, Westmead Hospital

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Goals of the work

A significant proportion of breast cancer patients experience psychosocial morbidity after treatment, although their longer-term outcomes and supportive care service needs have not been comprehensively documented. The aim of this study was to identify longer-term outcomes and supportive care needs in disease-free breast cancer survivors.

Materials and methods

One hundred seventeen patients who had been diagnosed with breast cancer 2–10 years earlier completed questionnaires to assess psychosocial outcomes including supportive care needs, psychological distress, and quality of life (QoL).

Main results

QoL and depression scores were consistent with community rates although anxiety scores were higher. Approximately two thirds of survivors reported at least one unmet need, most frequently concerning existential survivorship issues, thereby highlighting the unique needs of survivors. Years since diagnosis was not correlated with need levels. Survivors classified as clinically anxious reported over three times as many unmet needs and survivors classified as depressed reported over two and a half times as many unmet needs. Positive outcomes were frequently reported.


The findings have direct clinical relevance: irrespective of years since diagnosis, comprehensive and extended supportive care services are required to identify breast cancer survivors in need of supportive care interventions and remediate high levels of anxiety.


Breast cancer survivors Unmet needs Supportive care Psychosocial outcomes Benefit finding